Seahorses From The Black Sea Are Facing Extinction

see image The reservation is decaying because the Grigore Antipa National Research Institute doesn't have any more funds to administrate it. Tourists, who often have access to the border of the reservation, take the seahorses home as souvenirs.Few tourists who come to the Romanian seashore know that the only reservation for seahorses in Romania lies between the holiday resorts 2 Mai and Vama Veche.The reservation lies in the south of the Romanian seashore, covering an area of over 5000 hectares, 7 kilometers along the coast. From the resorts 2 Mai, Vama Veche and Limanu, one can reach the reservation by boat in a few minutes. Tourists have access to the border of the reservationHere, hobby divers can enter a wonderful world, populated by tens of thousands of seahorses, as well as by macrophytes, sea swallows or rare seashells. The clear water, more transparent than in the north part of the sea, offers the underwater visitors the possibility to admire the living creatures with their own eyes. Children especially love seahorses, but so too do adults, who are carried away by their beauty. This creature's head looks like a horse's – that is where they got their name. The reservation was planned so tourists could visit it in the buffer zone, on its border. "The tourists have to know that they can only enter this buffer zone. Otherwise they disturb the ecosystem," says Tania Zaharia, manager of the research department of the Antipa Institute.In order to signal the access zone for tourists, buoys were set. Unfortunately, the anglers who live in the area steal the buoys, so they have to be replaced quite often. The wreck has sunkUntil last year, a wreck worked in the reservation as an artificial reef. The ship sank almost fifty years ago and is still complete. Now one can only see its upper side. However, this does not stop curious tourists from visiting the area. The ones who protect the reservation say that it was very useful, as it provided shelter for many marine creatures.The 2 Mai-Vama Veche marine reservation was founded in 1980 as a scientific reservation. In 2005 it became part of the Grigore Antipa National Marine Research and Development Institute in Constanta. This year, the institute did not have any more administration funds to cover the yearly expenses. "Until June the activity was coordinated by the management of the institute. Unfortunately, we do not have any more funds and the reservation is decaying. It might even be destroyed," warns Tatiana Zaharia.The situation should have been settled once the National Agency for Protected Areas was founded. This agency is supposed to administer the protected natural areas, to help preserve biodiversity, to protect vulnerable animals and plants that are facing extinction. The agency does not function yet, although it exists, so the projects that should be run by it are abandoned. Male seahorses are the ones who give birthA peculiarity of the seahorses is that that the male seahorse is the one that gives birth and looks after the offspring. Five to ten days after birth, the baby seahorses learn how to catch their own food. The shape and color of their body helps them camouflage easily among underwater plants and stones.The seahorses live at a small distance from the surface of the water, where the sun shines. This is the reason why tourists find them easily and take them as a souvenir. Adevarul de seara-Litoral, 28 August 2009 Translated by Iunia Martin 

by Ioana Oros